Plum Cake – a fall affair

plum cake

As the weather gets chillier, at least here in the upper Midwest, we turn our attention over to apples and pears. The summer fruits and berries are no longer available, with the exception of the Italian plum. It has a short little season, which gives one hope and the ability to make it through a winter without stone fruits. ACT NOW, they don’t last long. These little gems are good to eat, but even better to bake with. They aren’t quite as juicy or sweet as their American cousins (of course, once the Italian plums are dried into prunes, and the sugars concentrated, they are the sweetest of all), but they keep their shape well and their skin adds a gorgeous purple color to tarts and cakes.

The brown sugar cake batter and sweet crumb topping are a perfect compliment to the not-too-sweet fruit. It is great for breakfast with a cup of tea and/or with ice cream after dinner. This is a cake that also seems to get better the second day, if there is any left.

Italian plums (more…)

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Sugar Plum Pie with a Folded Flaky Crust.

I know I promised a tour of the spice market in Istanbul, but I had to show you the plum pie I made for my stepmother’s birthday first. When I returned home after a month away my refrigerator was bare, nothing but a jar of capers and a bottle of sriracha sauce. After shopping in Europe the grocery stores here in MN seemed obscene with selection. The produce isle was filled with every fruit and vegie you could ever want, despite the fact that many of them wouldn’t be in season for months. It was both overwhelming and a bit thrilling to have all this at my fingertips. I’d been eating juicy plums and peaches in Italy and had decided to make my stepmother a pie with them for her birthday. They were perhaps a little firm, but they looked and smelled gorgeous. Because it was a special occasion I cooked the plums in champagne and vanilla. I made a tender crust and folded it a few times to add some flaky layers. This is my kind of birthday pie! (more…)

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Plum Cupcakes with Sweet-Corn Ice Cream!

My husband brought home corn last weekend from the market that was so sweet it just begged to be made into a dessert. But, that was not quite what he had in mind for this batch so we grilled it, peeled it, a small squeeze of lime juice and a sprinkle of salt. The lime brings out the sweetness even more. The following day I was back at the market and got more of the sweet corn and some early season plums that I suspected would be a bit tart. I figured the tart plums and the milky, honey like corn would be great companions.

Right away I knew that the corn would be turned to ice cream, with just a touch of vanilla and nothing more to distract from the delicate flavor. I baked the plums in a pound cake recipe that includes a touch of cornmeal. Not too much or it would be dense, but enough to give a hint of corn flavor and a nice texture. I left the skins on the plums because they were too gorgeous to remove and once they baked the skins were perfectly soft. We are weeks, if not months away from having these grow locally, but our neighbors to the south are kind enough to ship us their crops until then!


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